Airlines pull Boeing Max jets to inspect electrical systems

FILE- In this Sept. 30, 2020, file photo, a Boeing 737 Max jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle. Boeing says it has informed 16 of its customers that they should address a possible electrical issue in certain 737 Max aircraft before using them further. Boeing said Friday, April 9, 2021, that the recommendation was made to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FILE- In this Sept. 30, 2020, file photo, a Boeing 737 Max jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle. Boeing says it has informed 16 of its customers that they should address a possible electrical issue in certain 737 Max aircraft before using them further. Boeing said Friday, April 9, 2021, that the recommendation was made to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Airlines pulled dozens of Boeing Max 737s out of service for inspections after the aircraft maker told them about a possible electrical problem, the latest setback for the plane.

Boeing said Friday that the issue affected planes used by 16 airlines. The company did not say how many planes are affected or how long it will take for inspections and, if necessary, repairs.

Max jets were grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people. The planes resumed flying in December after regulators in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Brazil approved changes Boeing made to an automated flight-control system that played a role in the crashes.

Boeing said the new issue, in which a component in the electrical power system might not be correctly grounded, was unrelated to the flight-control system.

Southwest Airlines, which began flying the Max again last month, said it removed 30 of its 58 Max jets from its schedule to inspect them. Southwest spokesman Brian Parrish said the airline has not experienced any known problems related to the electrical issue.

Southwest has a fleet of more than 700 Boeing 737s, most of them older models than the Max. Parish said the airline will use other planes to operate flights that had been scheduled with Max jet, and it anticipates only minimal disruption to its operation.

American Airlines temporarily removed 17 of its 41 Max planes from service, according to a memo to employees. Boeing traced the issue to a production change made after the worldwide fleet of Max jets was grounded in 2019, American's chief operating officer, David Seymour, said in the memo.

“We will never knowingly operate an aircraft with a known or potential issue,” Seymour said.